Usage time: 2 months
Price: I paid $200 for the set
Glove History: Warrior Messiah M3 Catcher, Smith 6000 Retro Catcher, Reebok Larceny Pro, CCM EFlex Pro Glove, Vaughn 5500
While this glove is the older model I believe it is very similar to the current Pro Series 998 so this review should still be pretty relevant. While I don’t have a year of usage on this as I did the Larceny this glove was used before I bought it and I feel this review should be a good indication of how this glove will perform. Since this glove doesn’t suit me this well I have decided to move on from it and therefore it will be impossible for me to do a review on this glove after a year of usage.
Initial Thoughts: From the first time I put this glove on it was the most broken in glove I have ever worn out of the box. While this glove was used before I wore it, I have tried 997 gloves on before at the Simmons store and the gloves always felt broken in before they were ever used. The glove instantly felt solid when I put it on but I realized pretty quickly that squeezing it felt awkward and unnatural to me. That said I’ve heard great things about this glove so was very keen on using it and trying it out myself.
Fit: There are 2 velcro straps and a quick strap system that keeps your hand held into the glove. 1 velcro strap over the fingers, one on the top of the hand and the quick release strap is on your wrist. These straps never bothered me and always held my hand in place. I was able to get the glove snug and it never felt like it was going to fall off or felt uncomfortable in anyway. The straps are well made and didn’t rub or irritate my hand. The quick release strap actually pulled the wrist strap tight (I’ve worn gloves with this in the past where the strap was there but the angle it was placed never actually allowed for the strap to be adjusted). The palm material holds your hand in place well and even after becoming wet doesn’t get slippery. 10/10
Comfort: Over every strap on the inside of the glove is a comfortable layer of material ranging from a stretchable nylon material to a leather material. This relieves pressure points that can be caused by tight straps on the hand and ensures there is no stitching or relatively thin pieces of jenpro touching your hand. Simmons does a fantastic job in this department and is done better than any glove I have ever worn including my new Vaughn 5500 and CCM Eflex Pro. Where the bottom of the wrist meets the glove Simmons put a thick piece of palm material which adds cushioning to the cuff and helps keep the hand in place. The wrist resting material is a nash like leather material that adds a soft and comfortable landing area for your wrist. The palm material is a Digital Palm type that is used in player gloves. It isn’t extremely soft and has small bumps that hold your hand in place and creates lots of grip even when wet. Even thought the Digital Palm isn’t a super soft leather it comfortable environment for your hand and fingers and is one of my preferred palm materials on both player and goalie gloves. The wrist leather is softer and more comfortable compared to the leather like material on my Vaughn 5500. Again this is one of the most comfortable gloves I have ever worn and Simmons did an amazing job with it.
The break of this glove gives me awkward feeling when closing it over and over again, but because this has nothing to do with a flaw of the glove or how it is constructed and instead my personal break preference I feel that should not be reflected in the comfort section. 10/10
Weight: I have yet to use a scale on any of my gloves so I am going strictly based on how it felt on my hand. This glove felt light and agile. I had no problems moving it and never noticed it on my hand. It feels about as light as my Vaughn 5500 and lighter than my CCM Eflex Pro. Since this glove never stood out to me as unbelievably light it wont get the full marks. 9/10
Durability: This glove was used about 3 months on top of my usage and besides the puck marks it felts basically new. The palm material is holding up great as is the glove itself with no noticeable wear marks. Considering how thick the palm protection is I have no doubt that this glove will break down very little. 9/10
Protection: Since I was extremely disappointed with this glove’s matching blocker I had a feeling that once facing harder shots this glove would begin to disappoint me protection wise. I was pleasantly surprised that the protection levels on the 997 blocker and 997 catcher are worlds apart. I have been holding off on this review until I got play time with some high caliber shooters to make sure the protection lived up to the “Pro Series” name, and it absolutely does. For most of this gloves usage it got playing time with lower level adult hockey where the shots were terrible hard or fast in a league I usually play defense for. I finally got a chance to play with my regular group of players (the ones that gave me problems with the Larceny) and a couple surprise appearances. This group included 2 current NHLers, a few NCAA Div 1 players and a couple Canadian University players. I took this glove out specifically to face these hard shots and intentionally tried to block them with the palm, cuff (and anywhere but the pocket) of the glove. I could feel where the shots hit me and could definitely hear them but I never felt pain or discomfort when using this glove at all. Even when the Larceny was brand new I could feel hard shots more than I could with this 997, and the palm protection is thick and I wouldn’t hesitate wearing this when facing high quality shooters.
The one area I found lacking ever so slightly is in the backhand protection. While it has protection it just feels slightly less protected than the CCM Eflex Pro and is missing the soft pieces of the Vaughn 5500. That said I found the hard backhand finger protection to be larger on the 997 than on the Vaughn 5500. I’d prefer if this glove had a softer outer shell on top of the solid backhand just for a little more padding. 9/10
Performance: The first time I wore this glove I caught absolutely everything that was shot at it, which intrigued me since when I first put it on it felt awkward on my hand. After that first time and since then I have had a very hard time catching anything with this glove unless it falls directly into the pocket. I stated earlier that this hand felt awkward to me and in order for me to close this glove naturally I have to squeeze my hand in a way that is extremely unnatural to me and actually causes pain starting in my fingers going up my arm to my elbow.
When I close my hands I move my thumb inwards as I move my fingers inwards and I like my catching gloves to do the same. Other people close their gloves by keeping their thumb still and moving their fingers towards their wrist. I feel that the fingers towards the wrist is the motion this glove is made for, as when I try to close the glove it leaves a big gap and the glove doesn’t seal well at all.
Even when closing the glove in a fingers to wrist motion there is still not a perfect seal of the thumb and fingers of the glove. I believe this is due to the very protective palm of the glove, this small gap isn’t a huge issue and I never had a puck fall out of it when I wore it, but I figured I’d make note of it. This perhaps could be fixed by tying the glove closed for extended periods of time with pucks along the break, but since closing the glove is awkward enough for me I decided against attempting to do this.
Something I noticed when wearing this glove is that I have never shot pucks better than I have when wearing this. This glove is perfect for the Turco grip of shooting and I felt like I had the best grip of the stick I have ever had. It inspired confidence that I didn’t have with the Larceny or any gloves that came before it.
Since I had such difficulty catching with this glove I must take some points away. I understand that this glove just isn’t suited to me and other people will have a much easier time catching pucks than I did. I had such difficulty catching shots that using this glove lead to direct goals on numerous occasions, which I understand is at fault of me but I just couldn’t and can’t get used to the break angle. 7/10
Conclusion: I am thrilled and surprised at how protective this glove is. While it isn’t for me I know that this glove will a fantastic fit for many goalies and I would recommend it from someone who is just starting out to someone who plays against elite hockey players. That said I would hope they try it on first to ensure the break angle is right for them. Unlike my Larceny I would never be nervous wearing this against people who can really shoot the puck, but because of how awkward the break angle feels to me I could not make this glove my main glove. At $350 for a custom glove I feel this is a great value, you can get other pro level gloves for less when on sale but that is without custom colours or personalization. 7/10
**NOTE** Since I had extreme difficulty catching shots with this glove I must give it a slightly lower score than it deserves. But those higher scores will be held for equipment that I have earned their way into my regular rotation and equipment that I feel has made my game better. Again this glove is a Pro Level glove and is of extremely high quality. It has the best feeling internals of any glove I have ever owned and I wish other manufacturers took a look at Simmons on how to do catching glove internals.
Glove opens up pretty well, I wish it opened up slightly more towards the tips of the fingers to get better access to that lower strap and for airing out.
The 3 straps do a great job with adjustability and the internals make this one of the most comfortable feeling gloves on my hand.
I had issues closing this glove completely, while it would snap closed pretty easily it would never close completely flush with itself. It felt like the palm protection was interfering with itself. I am guessing working this glove in more might fix this issue, but since the break angle is awkward for me that time investment wasn’t worth it to me.
Hard to see in this photo (easier in the video) but this is how the glove closes when I use the thumb towards fingers closing method compared to fingers towards wrist. This is what feels natural to me and as you can see this glove’s break angle didn’t work well with my catching style.